Communication, Collaboration and Critique

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This spring I had the chance to go to Chicago for the HOW Design Live conference. I collected lots of graphic design inspiration and ideas, but one of my favorite workshops was relevant to any team. It was titled, Improving Team Communication and Collaboration Through Critique.

Wait, what? Aren’t collaboration and critique opposites? Not if your focus is to make a project or campaign better and not to simply point out issues.

Giving feedback

The presenter, designer, and illustrator Adam Connor, gave some tips for productive feedback:

Lead with questions: There may be a good reason why something was designed the way it was.

Give comments that direct, NOT react: They should provide solutions, or at least direction, not just express your gut feeling.

Your feedback should have intent: And that intent should be focused on an objective goal.

Give reasons why or why not: Be specific.

Point out both weaknesses and strengths: What works should be prominent, instead of what doesn’t.

Rules for collaboration

The first rule of brainstorming is…just kidding. But Adam did point out three rules essential to effective collaboration and brainstorming:

Set a goal and keep it front-of-mind (Or literally in front of you on a wall).

Everyone is equal, no matter their position or title.

Avoid problem-solving; just keep the ideas flowing.


Now, get excited to start critiquing each other—for the better.